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Saturday, 29 October 2016

On Creating A Language: Part 2

I realised recently that I haven't given people much of an update of the language I've been creating, Aiyæthron, since the initial two posts that I did about three and a half years back. Wow, it's been that long. Scary. At that point, all I had written out was the original letters I was using (an alphabet of sorts, though not with the actual characters - this primarily being a spoken language, and not having come up with those as yet); various ways that they did and didn't combine; and the name of the language, as well as the words for earth, air, water, and fire. I've come rather a long way since then. Not quite as long as some, perhaps, but a fair bit. I think I'll put the update of my notes in another post, otherwise this post will just be much too long. But I thought I'd write some further comments on what this process has been like, now that I'm a bit further in.

It's been very on and off, funnily enough, being me! I've found that I've had most headway when I've had a particular goal I'm aiming towards - for example, when I wanted to translate something in particular into Aiyæthron, like a Bible verse, or a poem, or even a song (because I wanted a challenge, you know!).

I've had a lot of fun shaping different ways that the language goes, and even creating a bit of a story with the language - very Tolkien-ish, which was almost part of the point. For example, I decided a little way in that the æ letter was a bit of a verb-er; it turned non-verbs into verbs when I subbed out other vowels for that one. For example: "bur" is to be behind; "bær" is follow. I also drew influences in the language from lots of different areas, and basically have different sub-sections of language that actually draw from specific places. For example, all of the anatomical words (hand, mouth, eye) are actually sounding quite African, nearly having the click sound - "dt'ung", "dt'ah" and "dt'uh", respectively. (That's a hard "g" on the dt'ung, by the way. The best way I can spell it phonetically is 'dtoonguh'. The best way I can describe the difference between the 'dt' and just a 't' at the start is that it starts more from the back of your mouth, using your tongue more than your teeth.) But then I'm using word for prince and princess that sound positively Welsh - cwulrun and cwulrohn, respectively. Love that 'cw' start!

There's also been all those little annoying bits - like figuring out tenses, plurals, genders, proper nouns, verbs, adjectives, numbers! All quite fidgety, but I've managed to do most of that alright, and a couple of other things besides. I'm probably terribly inconsistent with it, though. Isn't that the case with all language? Ha.

I also love that I'm now starting to build the story of the people that are using this language. They're called the Aiyædwur - either the guardians of  life and love, or guardians that live and love, I'm not quite sure yet. I'm sure both would be true, but I'm not sure which I want that word to mean as yet. They use a base eight numbering system - we use a base ten, for those not aware, which means we have the digits 0-9, and then it starts round again; but these folks have the digits 0-7, and then start back round again. I rather like the idea of a base eight numbering system, because it's a power of two. But it may also well be that that will only be a significant thing within a base ten numbering system - I haven't gotten quite that far yet. I also don't like the idea of figuring out how on earth base eight decimals work. I also think that since they have a base eight numbering system, it would make sense that they'd have four fingers on each hand. Or perhaps they use something else to count, not fingers. We'll see.

I've also come up with both a standard greeting, parting blessing, and a prayer that they use. The parting blessing is this: "Yat ai dahn yæ bærnaiah jrinihl nair æi." Which roughly translates to - "May life and love follow you all the days of your living." Last phrasing is a bit funny, but that's okay. All the days that you live or of your life would probably be more appropriate in English, but it's a different culture, and a different understanding of life! To them, it's always a verb, when it's referring to what we actually live. They don't talk about 'your life' or 'my life' they talk about your living. The prayer is actually just my attempt to translate 'Amen' - which ended up blowing up to this: "Prinai, yat thron mai dt’ahthræ nor shuhng." Which means, "Please, may the words I have said be true." Which is actually more or less what 'amen' is actually meant to mean. So that's all good. Just a tad lengthy. I may be unwittingly composing Old Entish here.

Lastly, in this post, I'll talk about their greeting, because I very much like it. It's one of the longer words that I've constructed in the language, and it's this: "Maizwæshiainnaiah". Not quite pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, but still quite a mouthful. It literally translates as "I see life in your face," but actually means, "You are beautiful." And that's not meant in a romantic sense - I wrote that one out a bit later, "Naiah dt’uhin nwunyo" - "You look beautiful". But there's a distinct difference between those two phrases. You are beautiful; and you look beautiful. The second one is a personal opinion, expressing your particular appreciation for someone's physical appearance; it's inherently biased and individual. Who I think looks beautiful, you may not, and vice versa.
The first statement, however, is completely different. It actually starts from a completely unbiased observation. The fact that we are each made in the image of God; that God is a beautiful God; therefore, each of us is beautiful. So, in part, this is a nod to and reminder of that in their culture. However, it goes deeper still than that! Because these people (and me) believe that each person has a purpose and a point to being here, whether general or specific. And when they are living close to that purpose, you can actually see that in them. The closest way I could put it into words was, "I see life in your face." Because you do. And so this phrase, "Maizwæshiainnaiah", is saying - "You are living in the purpose that God has made you to live, and I can see the beauty and life that that has brought you in your face." And I love that. And this is their common greeting! This isn't just something they do sometimes, here and there. This is something they do all the time. Admittedly, that probably says that they're somewhat of a utopian society - elves much? - but yeah. Just thought that was pretty awesome :)

I'll post all my updated language notes shortly after this. Any comments and feedback would be most welcome.

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